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plaints ; insomuch that a doubt still remains whether the fathers of physic were, or were not, acquainted with some of the most formidable contagions of the present period. 'On the subject,

therefore, of extermination, Dothing can with safety be urged

till we have some facts to guide us ;'* and our inquiries must for the present be limited to the best conduct to be pursued when menaced or visited with a contagious epidemic? To fly from the evil appears at first sight to be the obvious conduct to be adopted; but, besides that this is not always practicable, it ought to be considered, 'that the parties thus removed still

continue liable to the disease for the remainder of their lives,

or till they have passed through it.' It ought, too, to be considered, whether the season at which they fly from the

contagion, is not the most desirable in which they can expose • themselves to it; or, if females, whether their present security

may not render the most interesting period of their future lives, * the most melancholy to their surviving friends.'

There is one law applicable to epidemic diseases of all kinds, whether contagious or infectious, with which it is highly important that the public should be made acquainted; it is this, that those who remain in the air to which they are accustomed, often escape the effects of the poison, or, at the worst, are attacked in a milder manner; while those who, in consequence of the reigning epidemic, are removed to a purer air, are often seized with the disease from which they had fled, and in that case almost invariably have it in a more malignant form and violent degree. If the measles or the scarlet fever, for instance, visits a large boarding school, the anxious parents and friends of the children, basten to rescue them from the impending danger: but let them at the very least be cautious how they do so subsequently to the appearance of any, even the slightest indis.

* We regret that Dr. Adams does not entirely join us with in anticipating the total extinction of small pox by the aniversal practice of vaccination. Although a friend to the latter, he conceives the small pox contagion to be so insidious and untangible, that it may lie latent for years, and afterwards make its appearance. But surely in that case, its progress would be impeded, were the subjects upon which it would otherwise exercise its malignancy, already precluded from such possibility, by vaccination : and it is really fetching a sup, position from too far, to imagine that

may break in upon the world after having lain hid and inactive during a whole generation. For our own parts, we see no reason from what is advanced by Dr. Adams, to alter our already expressed opinion, that provided a universality of public sentiment could be gained on the subject, the necessity for either the small pox or the vaccine inoculation, would come at length to be altogether superseded.

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position; foc in conformity to the law just alluded to, things will in all human probability go much harder with these children, than if they had been suffered to stay and encounter the malady in the place where they were first attacked. We regret that the narrowness of our limits precludes us from extracting from Dr. Adams's book some interesting matter in reference to this point; but we must now bring the whole subject to a conclusion, by an observation or two on the preventives of infectious diseases.

While the contagions have increased of late years, so far as we can trust to the accuracy of medical records, the plague, ague, yellow-fever, jail-fever, typhus, have lessened both in frequency and virulence. How is this fact to be accounted for? Most certainly by our having come to put a due value upoa the preventive powers of a free ventilation and of cleanliness, an improved diet, clothing, sufficient fuel, the absence of dejection and imaginar fears; all of which (as Dr. Adams tells us) are the means of prevention, or of cure.' 'It is highly satisfactory,' (he continues, that all these are progressively ' increasing among us; and we may, without indulging any ' romantic opinions, look forward, if not to the entire extinction of the diseases enumerated, at least to the continuance of their gradual diminution.'

It will be gathered from what we have said in the course of the present paper, that we believe in the absolute necessity of a certain constitution of the atn osphere, as the immediately exciting cause of some of the epidemics; and that this peculiarity is often incapable of being rendere i evident to the senses, by any eudiometrical processes with which metereological science is at present acquainted : but then, we do not think that in the generality of instances, it operates with sufficient force for the production of disease, without the concomitant aid of putrefaction and filth*. It is fair, for instance, to presume, that precisely the same condition of the air has very often prevailed in London, as that which prevailed during the plague of London; but, as the city has been comparatively free from the secondary and combined sources of disease since it has become better drained, and paved, and cleaned, and as we have hitherto enjoyed an immunity from the ravages of the plague from the time that these improvements have had lace, it is perhaps equally fair to presume. upon a continued exemption from its visits, or at the very least,

*We say in the generality of instances ;' since we have one exception at least to this in the case of influenza, which seems to de: pend exclusively and entirely upon a certain state of the atmosphere, of the nature of which we are totally ignorant.

to suppose that it can never spread so generally and fatally as in former times.

Even typhus fever itself, whicli, until very recently, might be considered as the endemnic almost of London, is at present a comparatively rare occurrence; and there is no other way of accounting for this fact, than by the attention wbich has lately been given to cleanliness and ventilation, as securities against the spread of infectious disorders.

We are now briefly to notice the contents of Dr. Adams's treatise on the very interesting subject of hereditary complaints, which our Author introduces to his readers with the following prefatory observations.

· Two great sources of distress, much aggravated by the uncertainty in which they are involved, are, the danger of contagion and the apprehension of hereditary diseases. The former has often embittered the enjoyment of all that providence has bestowed upon us, and even stifled the feelings of consanguinity, friendship, and love : the ill effects of the latter have been in proportion to the strength of the moral feelings. The dread of being the cause of misery to posterity, has prevailed over the most laudable attachment to a beloved object; and a sense of duty has imposed celibacy on those who seemed by nature the best constituted for the duties of a parent. In these, as in many other highly important questions, men seem afraid of enquiring after truth; cautions on cautions are multiplied, to conceal the skeleton in the closet or to prevent its escape, till our very fears bring the object constantly before us, not in its real form, but multiplied into every possible shape, and magnified in all.'

Dr. Adams goes on further to maintain, that a fearless and fair inquiry into the circumstances connected with hereditary complaints, would be more likely to be productive of good, than that indolent apprehension which is so much indulged respecting maladies that are too indiscriminately regarded as lineal, or necessarily inherited by succession. He tells us that hereditary diseases would have become much more general than is found to be the case, had there been no provision in nature, or in the laws of seciety, for preventing their continuance and increase; and that these laws are sufficiently operative upon the evil, without the necessity of those unnatural restrictions, the propriety and duty of which have been inculcated by some wellmeaning but misguided individuals. That Divine law, he tells us, by which is interdicted the matrimonial union of near relatives, is amply sufficient for the accomplishment of the desired end. In all cases in which we see a succession through several ages of the same diseases, Dr. Adams conceives that the perpetuation of the peculiarity is attributable in a principal measure, not to general admixture, but, on the contrary, to sequestration and banishment from society, and the obligation which such sequestration imposes to intermarriage among relations. This he thinks is the only rational manner in which the goitre and cretinism of the Alps can at all be explained.

* Let us suppose,' (he says in illustration of his principle) that a family in whom the swelled throat was hereditary, had found it necessary to emigrate. That from their imbecility they had sought a secluded spot, and had remained for many generations secluded from the rest of the world. In such a community no cause would exist to lessen the family peculiarity. The disease is not influenced by climate in such a degree as to destroy prematurely those who are most exposed to it. The constant sight would lessen that repugnance to a deformity which would be disgusting to strangers; add to this, at the most interesting period of life, the progress of the disease is often such as to be little noticed where its most advanced stage is perpetually obtruding itself. By such a family, I conceive the less accessible parts of the Alps and Pyrenees were peopled : at what period it is impossible that we should now as. certain. That they were once comparatively few in number, or confined to the most secluded parts of the Alps, we may conclude, as they are unnoticed by any writer of antiquity excepting Juvenal; and that they were frequent in his days, cannot be questioned, whatever allowance it may be right to make for his strong propensity to caricature.-Quis tumidum guttur miratur in Alpibus ?

This idea of the perpetuity of disease from isolation, Dr. Adams supposes to be strengthened by what has been observed in animals.

"Sir John Sebright informs us, that if a flock of sheep, in which there is any defect, are permitted to breed in and in, the defect will gradually increase among them; and Colonel Humphries, by selecting for breeding a marked variety, has succeeded in procuring a flock, all of them with deformed bones. If the same causes operate in man, may we not impute to them many endemic peculiarities found in certain sequestered districts which have hitherto been imputed to the waters, and other localities? And may we not trace a provision against such a deterioration of the race, in that revealed law, by which any sexual intercourse belween near relations is forbidden on pain of death? This prohibition, as far as we can judge, proves sufficient to prevent the too great influence of such an hereditary, cause, since the number of maniacs does not increase in proportion to our inereased population, and the great exciting causes of madness, namely, increased wealth and other sources of ambition. Nor is this the only provision we can trace. The worst stages of madness are attended with a total indifference to the sex, not to mention the very general inclination to suicide, which the utmost vigilance cannot often prevent. Seeing then how little is left in so important a concern to the operation of human institutions, have we not reason to be satisfied with the provisions of nature, and with the Divine commands ? Yet in the most serious of all hereditary peculiarities, the great susceptibility to madness, celibacy has been recommended

as a duty. Before we venture to propose measures contrary to one of the first impulses of nature, and to the first blessing which the Almighty Fiat bestowed on man, it becomes us seriously to weigh the consequences '* These extracts will be sufficient to sliew the


and tenor of Dr. Adams's reasoning. We shall now give our readers a general abstract of the manner in which he details bis priociples and maintains his assumptions. It is necessary, we are told, always to keep the distinction in view between a family and an hereditary peculiarity of constitution, which consists in this, that the first is confined to a single generation, to brothers and sisters of the same family, and the second is traced from generation to generation. The period of life at which diseases appear, is the next point of moment. They either shew themselves at the birth, or they arise afterwards. It is in the first case alone that the application of the term hereditary disease, can with propriety apply: (and those diseases that appear at birth are rarely bereditary :) the others can be considered only as hereditary susceptibilities to disease. Now, this susceptibility may be so strong, that the disease shall follow almost inevitably; or it may be, as in the greater number of cases it is, so comparatively slight, that the actual malady may be prevented by timely care, by a due application of the resources of art, and a proper direction of the energies of nature, more especially at those periods when the frame is about to undergo radical and prominent changes.

But we cannot follow our Author through all his detail; we shall therefore confine ourselves to a statement of his deductions from the whole of the Inquiry, and we shall give it in his own words.

* In order to shew what a difference of sentiment obtains on this point between contemporary writers of repute, we give the following quotation from Dr. Reid, as opposed to that just made from Dr. Adams.

Nothing can be more obvious than that one who is aware of a decided bias in his own person towards mental derangement, ought to shun the chance of extending and perpetuating, without any assignable limit, the ravages of so dreadful a calamity. No rites however holy, can, under such circumstances, consecrate the conjugal union. In a case like this, marriage itself is a transgression of morality. A man who is so situated, in incurring the risk of becoming a parent, involves himself in a crime which may not improbably project its lengthened shadow, a shadow which widens in proportion as it advances over the intellect and the happiness of an indefinite succession of beings.' Reid on Nervous Diseases. p. 185.

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